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July 31, 1996

Copyright 1996 - Greg Bulmash - All Rights Reserved

Is it just my paranoia, or is everyone buying and leasing SUV's (Sport Utility Vehicles)?

People in their 30's, all over the country, are trading in their Hondas and getting SUV's in droves. Lexus recently introduced a luxury one. Lamborghini has one that features a 455 horsepower V-12 Countache engine. There's the Nissan Pathfinder, the Toyota 4-Runner, the Isuzu Rodeo, the Jeep Grand Cherokee... Buick just came out with one. Yeah, there's a company that's known for off-road adventuring. Basically, they're all just trucks for yuppies. Yuppie Trucks. So I call them Yucks.

They're very popular in Southern California, which is very puzzling. It's not like Southern California gets enough snow and sleet to require that 4-wheel drive for better road handling. Heck, in an area where we get beach weather in February, and 18 inches of rainfall in a year is something to celebrate, the deaths attributable to snow would come less from bad road conditions and more from everyone freaking out. But if you're gonna freak out, you're better off doing it in a Yuck than a Yugo. If you freak out in a Yugo, you'll get killed. If you freak out in a Yuck... you'll kill the person who's freaking out in the Yugo.

I know this because my first car, back in 1985, was a Yuck, handed down to me by my father. His reasoning for not letting me drive a little aluminum and fiberglass pocket rocket like a Nissan Z... "if you're going to be on the road, I want to know there's about 5,000 pounds of good old American steel around you." Then, to fill the void left by the loss of his Yuck, he got a Corvette.

I enjoyed it though. For fun, my friends and I would sneak up behind little cars, blow the air-horn, and watch their owners convulse. We were never afraid of retribution. What was the guy in the Pinto going to do? We were teenagers and we were in a big, black Yuck that could crush his little car like a bug.

Maybe that's the fascination. Power. They're giving up their little black Honda Civics for bigger black Honda Yucks so they can be the baddest yuppies on the road. Merle Goldberg, Lawyer of the Outback! Eugene O'Brien, Mountain Accountant! Laurie Johnson, the Pumped-up Programmer from Pasadena!

Then again, it could just be because no human being over the age of five can fit comfortably into the back of most coupes, mini-vans are lame, and when it comes to a big sedan or station wagon, well, that's what your parents drive... WAIT! Could that really be it? Is that what this brouhaha is all about? It's not safety, not power, but a driving need not to become our parents?

Yeah, that sounds about right.

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